This inspiration is of a fun DIY kind; marker drawings on a freezer door. Standard refrigerators and freezers have a surface similar to that of whiteboards, so let’s bring out our whiteboard markers and let our creativity loose in the kitchen! I designed an office for a bunch of engineers recently who could never get enough whiteboards, so I guess this would have been perfect in their homes. Please visit the Freezer Friday tumblr for more inspiration.
Harvard Monolithic Bee by Pratheev Sreetharan and J. Peter Whitney
This is intriguing! A group of doctoral candidates at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) has developed the Harvard monolithic Bee which is a millimeter-scale flapping wing robotic insect produced using Printed Circuit MEMS (PC-MEMS) techniques. Inspired by folding techniques and pop-up books, they designed a tiny robot that can fly and behave autonomously as a colony.
In the manufacturing 18 layers of carbon fiber, Kapton (a plastic film), titanium, brass, ceramic, and adhesive sheets was laminated together in a complex, laser-cut design. The structure incorporates flexible hinges that allow the three-dimensional product to assemble in one movement, like the previously mentioned pop-up book. And all electronics are integrated in the laminate. The entire product is approximately the size of a U.S. quarter, and dozens of these microrobots could be fabricated in parallel on a single sheet.
Obviously a human being can not produce such a mechanism with bare hands, so a slightly bigger robot is programmed to built it. And this is where it gets curios; a robot mass producing another robot that can behave autonomously within a group. Human beings did the creative work, since we’re able to figure out how a two dimensional (well, almost) sheet can be folded, twisted and tweaked into a three dimensional product, but the robots took care of the rest without mistakes. All fabrication methods had to be invented through the process. Now that they are a reality; if our computers one day will be able to combine the methods and calculate such a design themselves, we might see the beginning of the cylons… Don’t you think? Or not. Or? Would we realize if it happened? The questions are many, and I’ll stop my random blabbering for now.
Lately I have been investigating a lot about zoetropes and similar animation devices. A zoetrope is an early cinematic device traditionally made as a cylinder with slots in regular intervals and images on the inside. When one spins the cylinder and looks through the slots the images appear to be moving like an animation. See video below for a visual explanation:
As with all fascinating objects creative people tend to develop the idea and make their own slightly different version of it. In modern times someone started to use stroboscopes instead of slots in a cylinder, or even the shutter speed of a film camera. You know how the weels of a car seem to roll backwards in movies? That is the effect I’m talkning about. That is basically because a stroboscope or a camera is not continous light or image as our eyes see it, but a series of light flashes or still images shown in high speed. Here is an example of a stroboscope zoetrope by Gregory Barsamian:
And one with camera shutter speed:
But the most beautiful and fascinating version i found is the so called phonotropes made by Jim Le Fevre. He used a turntable divided into 33 segments and made three dimensional animations by filming the spinning turntable. It’s almost like live stopmotion animations! Take a look and let yourselves be seduced by this complex simplicity:
Please read his page about this! He has included explanations, pictures, films, background info and further reading as well as links to other people working with zoetropes/phonotropes/kinotropes/whatever all the names are. Make sure you have som time though, because this may get you stuck for a whole evening. In a good way.
By the way: The purpose of my research in this field is so far a secret, but if you keep your eyes open you will see when the result is finished. Teasing, teasing.